Once Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was asked to visit a prison in Israel and speak to the prisoners. When approaching the prison the Rabbi spotted a bunch of teen agers in one of the fenced in areas. He asked the head warden, “Who are these young men?” “These are juvenile delinquents in the youth ward of the prison”, the head warden answered.
Rabbi Eliyahu said: “I’d like to meet them and speak to them”. “Rabbi, it’s not a good idea. These kids are very unruly and respect no one. They’re liable to throw eggs and tomatoes at you. It would be a shame for them to treat you so rudely.”
The rabbi ignored the suggestion of the head warden and was adamant: “I’m not leaving the prison today without talking to these young men! If they throw eggs and tomatoes at me I’ll dry clean my rabbinical gown. I have something to tell them.” He then turned to his assistant and said; “Go to the prison canteen and buy candy bars for these young men, quickly!”
The warden saw he wasn’t talking the rabbi out of visiting the unruly youth and he went into their ward to tell them they would have a distinguished visitor… the Chief Rabbi of Israel!
The youth started preparing a proper reception for him. They ran to the pantry and grabbed eggs and tomatoes and prepared to pelt the Rabbi when he arrived. The rabbi entered the ward surrounded by wardens who hoped to protect the Rabbi from getting pelted. The rabbi was received with a great ruckus and the youth held up their eggs and tomatoes menacingly and shouted and roared.
Rabbi Eliyahu was not perturbed. He looked at the young men with kind eyes. He scanned the youth and spotted who he felt was the ringleader; a 14 year old who seemed to be leading the rest of them. He turned to him and asked: “Please tell me as the group leader, when will it be quiet in here?” The young man haughtily announced: “In exactly 3 minutes!” Indeed 3 minutes later it was quiet after the boy waved his hands for silence.
The rabbi began speaking and encouraged the young men to come back on to the correct path. “Don’t consider yourselves prisoner, consider yourselves young men who will get out and in the future will establish perfectly normal and healthy families! Every one of you when he gets out of here is invited to come visit me!”
After Rabbi Eliyahu’s words the young men who were just rowdy a few minutes before, stood politely on line to speak to the Rabbi, get his blessing and kiss his hand in reverence. Each one of them got one of the candy bars the rabbi told his assistant to buy for them.
Years passed and after Rabbi Eliyahu passed away a married Torah Student came to visit his home and told his family: “I was one of those delinquent youth and the words of the rabbi helped me change my ways!”